steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

Ludwig Zamenhof's Apostle to Surrey

My mother once told me that when she first met her in-laws she was amazed and a little shocked to hear how disrespectfully my grandfather was addressed by his children. I don't suppose they called him a silly old fool except in a jocular/affectionate way, but she couldn't imagine talking to her father like that at all. But then, one grandfather was a vegetarian, pacifist Esperantist and the other a professional sailor from Wrexham who'd spent much of his youth on down-and-dirty cargo runs.

One of the documents I've been looking through recently is a scrapbook, maintained by my Esperanto grandfather, with photos and various childish sketches by his own offspring. Amongst the rest, there is evidence that the father-mocking spirit set in as early as the 1920s. Here, for example, is a (presumably imaginary) scene of domestic violence, as he punishes my grandmother for burning the Yorkshire pudding. It also gives an insight into the English-Esperanto pidgin that was being spoken in Kingston upon Thames at that date:


That was by my aunt Myfy, the eldest child. A little later, there are renditions by both her and her brother James of my grandfather on a missionary trip to Guildford, trying to convert the townsfolk to the glories of Esperanto. (One gathers it wasn't a great success.) First James:


Then Myfy, not to be outdone:


It's quite interesting to see so many of the graphic techniques later utilized by The Beano already in common currency. Either way, I think we can say from the fact that my grandfather carefully pasted these scurrilous pictures into the family scrapbook that he wasn't too offended.
Tags: family history
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded